Siri Shows Where BlackBerry’s Voice-Powered Search Went Wrong


With the unveiling of the iPhone 4S, consumers were given a look at Siri - the personal assistant app that comes with the device. It looks like the technology is powered by Nuance, which RIM also licenses for its voice-powered universal search. It seems both run on Nuance technology and the difference is the implementation. It’s not a stretch for RIM to update the voice-powered universal search in a way that’s even better than Siri.


What BlackBerry needs in its implementation of Nuance is something a little more user friendly, less hands-on and a more obvious value proposition. Currently, the implementation of voice-powered search doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sure, you can tell your BlackBerry to look for something, but then you’re presented with a host of options, forcing you to still look at the screen and physically interact with the device. The whole point of voice-powered search and functionality is that you don’t have to touch anything and take your eyes off the task at hand (eg driving).

When you say “find a good Italian restaurant” simply offers a variety of ways you can search that query around your device (eg plug it in to Google Search). Considering it’s the same technology, and the device does an excellent job of interpreting the voice command, it wouldn’t have been hard for RIM to write the software such that it picked out the terms “find” (ie use web search) and “Italian restaurant” to provide me the results. Without some of this basic functionality, there really isn’t any reason to use the voice recognition on BlackBerry. You still have to find the small microphone button (it doesn’t show up in the convenience key settings) and then select a secondary option.

With a little bit more work, better implementation of the technology, and a better focus on user experience, BlackBerry could have a Siri of its own.

  • Hendrik

    There is a difference between voice recognition (Nuance) and what you do with it. The latter is called interpretation or find the meaning of what has been said and that is the difficult part.

  • Hardened

    The dynamics are completely different as well as the algorithms. It’s not just recognition - static per set commands. It’s not just search - dynamic social and location relevant search with relevant results with intuitive interpretation.

    I long ago blogged that RIM Needs to step up their game and change partners if necessary not just purchase a pre set package. Implementing voice search is a nice step but it’s not enough. iOS is a pleasure to use and I’m on it full time.

  • Camelman351

    I dont much care what its called, I paid top dollar for what was at the time the best blackberry availible. Now the siri thing and androids are going crazy all for free while I cant get a sad Imitation for under 10 bucks at the app world. I can tell you all this, whatever RIM does will be too late to salvage this once happy customer, in the same vein as HP will never get another dime from me the once strong RIM is now just a shadow of its former self, the technology cancer ie: indifference to its paying customers eq has too much of the company. I give it 2 years before they get sold to some fly by night tech circus for a dime on the dollar of its former value. But of course by then I will be using either an IPhone or Android Phone and I will no longer care.           Signed    Tired of watching American companies screw their customers and shooting themselves in the foot!!